Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) for Interoperability in Health Research: Systematic Review.

The standard Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) is widely used in health information technology. However, its use as a standard for health research is still less prevalent. To use existing data sources more efficiently for health research, data interoperability becomes increasingly important. FHIR provides solutions by offering resource domains such as "Public Health & Research" and "Evidence-Based Medicine" while using already established web technologies. Therefore, FHIR could help standardize data across different data sources and improve interoperability in health research. The aim of our study was to provide a systematic review of existing literature and determine the current state of FHIR implementations in health research and possible future directions. We searched the PubMed/MEDLINE, Embase, Web of Science, IEEE Xplore, and Cochrane Library databases for studies published from 2011 to 2022. Studies investigating the use of FHIR in health research were included. Articles published before 2011, abstracts, reviews, editorials, and expert opinions were excluded. We followed the PRISMA (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses) guidelines and registered this study with PROSPERO (CRD42021235393). Data synthesis was done in tables and figures. We identified a total of 998 studies, of which 49 studies were eligible for inclusion. Of the 49 studies, most (73%, n=36) covered the domain of clinical research, whereas the remaining studies focused on public health or epidemiology (6%, n=3) or did not specify their research domain (20%, n=10). Studies used FHIR for data capture (29%, n=14), standardization of data (41%, n=20), analysis (12%, n=6), recruitment (14%, n=7), and consent management (4%, n=2). Most (55%, 27/49) of the studies had a generic approach, and 55% (12/22) of the studies focusing on specific medical specialties (infectious disease, genomics, oncology, environmental health, imaging, and pulmonary hypertension) reported their solutions to be conferrable to other use cases. Most (63%, 31/49) of the studies reported using additional data models or terminologies: Systematized Nomenclature of Medicine Clinical Terms (29%, n=14), Logical Observation Identifiers Names and Codes (37%, n=18), International Classification of Diseases 10th Revision (18%, n=9), Observational Medical Outcomes Partnership common data model (12%, n=6), and others (43%, n=21). Only 4 (8%) studies used a FHIR resource from the domain "Public Health & Research." Limitations using FHIR included the possible change in the content of FHIR resources, safety, legal matters, and the need for a FHIR server. Our review found that FHIR can be implemented in health research, and the areas of application are broad and generalizable in most use cases. The implementation of international terminologies was common, and other standards such as the Observational Medical Outcomes Partnership common data model could be used as a complement to FHIR. Limitations such as the change of FHIR content, lack of FHIR implementation, safety, and legal matters need to be addressed in future releases to expand the use of FHIR and, therefore, interoperability in health research.

JMIR medical informatics. 2022 Jul;10(7):e35724.

ISSN 2291-9694

Authors: Carina Nina Vorisek, Moritz Lehne, Sophie Anne Ines Klopfenstein, Paula Josephine Mayer, Alexander Bartschke, Thomas Haese, Sylvia Thun

┬ęCarina Nina Vorisek, Moritz Lehne, Sophie Anne Ines Klopfenstein, Paula Josephine Mayer, Alexander Bartschke, Thomas Haese, Sylvia Thun. Originally published in JMIR Medical Informatics (, 19.07.2022.

PMID 35852842

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